‘A Simple Space’ at Udderbelly Festival

How hard can you throw a plastic ball? Hard enough to knock someone over? Probably not. But what if they were standing on their head, and there were hundreds of other people throwing plastic balls with you? Gravity and Other Myths, the circus ensemble currently performing at the Udderbelly Festival, wants to know who can last the longest upside down while you do this. How can you turn down an offer like that?

A Simple Space is an exhilarating show with seven people and minimal room. It slickly plays with light, music and acrobatics, as well as your expectations. It makes an acrobatics show in turns breathtaking and hilarious, frequently leaving you unsure of what’s next.

Arguably it’s main hook is the challenge sections of the show. Each game is introduced wordlessly, with clever stage direction in place to help you figure out the rules. Who can hold their breath the longest? Who can do the most somersaults? Survive a game of strip skipping? There’s a real sense of competition amongst the performers in many of these segments. The specialists in particular disciplines casting eager side-glances at each other (time permitting) before their next turn as the speed increases. The strip-skip game, of skipping as fast as you can, in particular has an increasing edge of tension, as it slowly dawns on the loser what he has to take off.

The music is provided live by one of the group. The excellent drumming skills extended from an impressive array of effect-led digital drums into one of (I say this as if I’ve seen others) the most spectacular feats of self-drumming – at times bordering on self abuse – I’ve ever seen. Kind of like beatboxing, except using your hands, feet and chest. It needs to be seen to be not just believed but understood!

Not that it’s all fun and games. Several lengthy, more serious, pieces showed of the athleticism of Gravity and Other Myths. Human pyramids feel par for the course by the end of the show, with the strength required in order to achieve some of the moves underlined only by the length of time taken to demonstrate them.

By the end of the show, the acrobats are all over the place. Things move so quickly you barely have time to realise they’ve almost just been flung in your face before they’ve been hurled head first into someone else at the other end of the stage. The guys thoroughly earned their standing ovation, displaying a huge amount of innovation and infectious enthusiasm for their fiercely honed skills.

 A Simple Space is playing until 6 July at the Udderbelly Festival:

Jubilee Gardens
Belvedere Road
South Bank

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